Are the Florida Panthers and their blueprint for real?!

(Tom Turk/THW).

When Dale Tallon came to South Florida, he told fans “You’ve put up with a lot of broken promises here in Florida. But that’s over.  I’m here to deliver.”  Wait.  Another promise.  Another “rebuilding year.”  This sounds all so familiar.  Yet, somehow, we wanted to believe the hype.  This guy has a blueprint for success!  And he’s used it before.  So, as the Florida Panthers get off to one of their best starts in years, is it fair to assume that this whole blueprint thing is for real?  Is it the blueprint to “success?”

To the blue-print we go!

In the blueprint…”execute smart trades and negotiations” and building a team with core traits of character, skill, size, speed, and more character!

First…the trades.  It would be pretty difficult to accuse these guys of not being active on the trading block!  In the week leading up to the trade deadline, the Panthers started by trading veteran and team Captain, Bryan McCabe.  Then, trade day came.  The first deal of the day…the Cats quickly traded DvorakBryan Allen and Chris Higgins.  By the time the 3:00pm deadline came, the Panthers had traded four veterans in one day.   Tallon appeared to stick to his plan, stating “We followed our blueprint to the letter.”  Yes, they did.  During the off season, the Cats were unable to negotiate a new contract with goalie Tomas Vokoun and sent him packing to Washington.  The trades didn’t seem to stop over the summer, as Tallon seemed to want to send a message to the team by unloading fan favorite, David Booth and Steven Reinprecht just after the team had their first back to back losses.

Core traits…Character…Well, if character can be measured by the fight that this team has, then I haven’t seen as many fights since watching Floyd Mayweather!  In Tuesday nights game against Carolina, Dmitry Kulikov took a skate to the lower right leg, which created a deep laceration that could keep him out for an extended period.  In the same game, Kris Versteeg got bloody and trainers had to work on his face.  By the way, with that win, the Cats earned their second highest point total for the month of November in franchise history.  The team has also shown character by coming back to win games in which they trailed.

Florida Panthers Brian Campbell

Brian Campbell off to a fast start (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

Skill…let’s look at some stats…Defenseman, Brian Campbell has 20 points.  That’s second in the league for Defensemen.  Jason Garison is the number one defenseman in the league with 4 power play goals.  Thomas Fleischmann has a plus/minus of 14, which ties him for 3rd best in the NHL.  There seems to be some talent on this team!  Players with top 5 stats in several categories seems to suggest some skill with this team.  

Size…yeah, we have size.  Right Wing, Matt Bradley brings 10 years of NHL experience and a 6’3″, 210 physical presence to the team.  Then, there is the 6’6″, 250, Defenseman, Nolan Yonkman.  Former Panther, Ed Jovanovski returns with his 6’3″, 218 frame to get in the way of opponents.  Center, Shawn Matthias brings his 6’4″, 225 presence to center ice.
Speed?  Left Wing, Sean Bergenheim brings speed and experience following an impressive playoff performance while he was with Tampa Bay.  The Cats have shown a dramatic improvement with the power play…a category which left them last in the league last year.
And more character!  The Cats are currently on a schedule which Kris Versteeg calls “garbage.”  The team will travel over 4,000 miles from Carolina to Los Angeles to face the Kings. From there, they head to San Jose.  They then fly all the way back home to play (with little time to prepare) for a game against Washington, for a battle for first place in the Southeast.  Then, it’s back on the road again.  After winning the first road game vs Carolina, goalie Jose Theodore said “getting the two points really sets the mood.  If you want to have a good road trip, the first one really gets you going.”
Going in to Saturday night’s game against San Jose, the Panthers have a 5 point lead against the second place Washington Capitals in the Southeast.  The Panthers will make the long trip home to face the Caps and Tomas Vokoun in his return to face is former team for the first time.
Whatever they are doing, it seems to be successful so far.  I don’t know if it’s the blueprint or not, but I am excited about this team!  I believe that Dale meant what he said when he promised a “championship team” in South Florida!


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